Eschatology Studies (Eighteen)

It is written:

“At that time Michael shall stand up, The great prince who stands watch over the sons of your people; And there shall be a time of trouble, Such as never was since there was a nation, Even to that time. And at that time your people shall be delivered, Every one who is found written in the book.” (Daniel 12:1)

Daniel says that during the time of the reign of this wicked king, there would be “a time of trouble.” As we have noticed in previous studies, this time frame is specifically near the end of the Christian Age (Matthew 13:39-40, 49; 24:3; 28:20).

What shall we make of this “time of trouble?”

First, the idea of this “time of trouble” refers to a time of persecution and hardship. The Hebrew word translated here as “trouble” is translated in the Greek Septuagint with the word thlipsis. The word was used often by Jesus and His Apostles.

““Jesus famously said to His disciples shortly before His crucifixion, “These things I have spoken to you, that in Me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation [thlipsis]; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16: 33 NKJV). And note that this is the same Greek word used elsewhere in the New Testament for “great tribulation” (see Matthew 24: 29 and Revelation 7: 14). Then, in direct confirmation of the words of Jesus, we read, And when [Paul and Barnabas] had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, “We must through many tribulations [again, Greek, thlipsis] enter the kingdom of God.” Acts 14: 21–22 NKJV In fact, the Greek for tribulation, thlipsis, which can also mean “trouble, pressure,” is found frequently in the New Testament. See Matthew 13: 21 (where thlipsis and persecution arise because of the Word); Acts 20: 23 (thlipsis awaits Paul in every city); Romans 5: 3 (thlipsis produces perseverance in our lives; see also Romans 8: 25; 12: 12); 2 Corinthians 1: 4 (God comforts us in our thlipsis); 2 Corinthians 4: 17 (in this world, we have only light thlipsis; see also 2 Corinthians 6: 4; 7: 4; Ephesians 3: 13; Philippians 1: 17; 4: 14; Colossians 1: 24); 1 Thessalonians 1: 6 (the Thessalonians received the Word in much thlipsis; see also 1 Thessalonians 3: 3, 7; 2 Thessalonians 1: 4, 6); Hebrews 10: 33 (the believers were made a spectacle because of the thlipsis they suffered); James 1: 27 (we visit the fatherless and widows in their thlipsis); Revelation 1: 9 (John is our companion in thlipsis); Revelation 2: 9–10 (the believers in Smyrna are suffering thlipsis and will continue to suffer thlipsis) and Revelation 2: 22 (the Lord will afflict Jezebel and her followers with great thlipsis). These verses confirm what Jesus and Paul said: We will have lots of thlipsis—tribulation!—in this world. And that leads to an obvious question: Why would we think that at the end of the age, God would spare His people from thlipsis? Why the final generation alone? That would seem to violate a biblical pattern, would it not? And what about the way that Jesus prayed for His disciples? Could that be the way He prays for us, too? He said, “I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one” (John 17: 15 NKJV).” (Michael L. Brown & Craig S. Keener, Not Afraid of the Antichrist: Why We Don’t Believe in a Pre-Tribulation Rapture, 92-93 (Kindle Edition): Bloomington, Minnesota; Chosen Books)

This tribulation was already ongoing in the first century when Jesus and HIs Apostles lived.

Revelation 1:9-I, John, both your brother and companion in the tribulation and kingdom and patience of Jesus Christ, was on the island that is called Patmos for the word of God and for the testimony of Jesus Christ.

We are told that the Great Tribulation began in the first century, and that this persecution against Christians will continue through the end of the world. We are told that this persecution would intensify and continue throughout the Christian Age. Indeed, this is what Daniel himself recorded would happen.

Daniel 11:35-And some of those of understanding shall fall, to refine them, purify them, and make them white, until the time of the end; because it is still for the appointed time.

Second, these passages of Scripture indicate that this persecution will increase against God’s people, and will be particularly intense before the time of Christ’s Return.

Third, the testimony of the early Christians teach the same facts about this tribulation against God’s people. One author has written:

“As I said in my last book, the idea of the Pre-Tribulation rapture, with its intense focus on the details of the end times and the antichrist, and yet obliviating the core practical message of the New Testament and the apostolic teaching on the matter, teaching that believers will escape this suffering, is a message that really does ‘tickle the ears’ of a comfort loving, complacent, and sleeping church. It is the eschatological version of the ‘prosperity’ gospel, the ‘health and wealth’ seduction, and it is at least as dangerous, a false teaching….“Jesus warned of the end times that ‘only those who endure to the end shall be saved’ and yet this false teaching says that the true believer won’t need to endure to the end but shall fly to the sky and revel in heaven whilst there is hell on earth….“Church, wake up, wake up, wake up! Pastors, wake up! Even if you have not believed or taught the heresy of a Pre-Tribulation rapture, you must start preparing your flock NOW before it is too late! The early church fathers have much to teach us–they did not warn of escaping the Tribulation, but of the need to prepare for it by ongoing repentance, humility, righteous living and utter fidelity to Jesus…“Again, we can learn from the early church fathers, and a good look at the teaching of St Cyril, bishop of Jerusalem to his converts and Pseudo-Ephraim in particular will reveal the intensely practical need to prepare your flocks and people and children for what is to come.” (Nathanael Lewis, Falsifying The Fathers: How Pre-Tribulationists Pervert The Apostolic End-times Teaching, 196-199 (Kindle Edition); Bowburn, Co. Durham; McKnight & Bishop Inspire)

Finally, the facts of this “time of trouble” argue strongly against against what is often referred to as the “pre-tribulation rapture.” Many in the religious world teach that there will be a quiet, secret return of Jesus (which they call the Rapture, and which is not taught in the Word of God). God’s Word teaches that Christians will endure persecution during the Christian Age, and will not be rescued from it before the Second Coming.

In our next study, we will consider what this passage teaches us about the Resurrection at the end of time.

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